As in many of Conrad's stories, the first-person narrator is somewhat removed from the action of the story; in this case, it is an old English professor of languages residing in Geneva, who has received the personal record of a young orphaned Russian student named Razumov. Razumov is studious and career-motivated young man who keeps himself largely aloof from his peers. One day when he returns home, he finds a student acquantaince named Victor Haldin hiding in his apartment. Haldin informs Razumov that he has just committed a political assassination (which Conrad modeled after the real-life assassination of Vyacheslav von Plehve) and evaded the police. This news causes the single-minded Razumov to panic, as he has no sympathy for Haldin's actions and feels that all he has worked for is slipping away.